Saturday, April 16, 2011

2011 books, #26-30

The black ice, by Michael Connolly. London: Orion, 1993.

A Harry Bosch novel I somehow missed reading earlier. A corpse in a hotel room appears to be that of a missing LAPD narcotics officer. Rumours abound that the officer had also been drug-dealing in a drug called black ice, which had been coming over the Californian/Mexican border, and had committed suicide rather than being found out. Harry isn't so sure, and carries out a maverick investigation on both sides of the Mexican border, leading him into a web of police corruption and genuine danger. As ever, tightly plotted and well-written.

Blue heaven, by C J Box. London: Corvus, 2010. Kindle edition.

Two children, William and Annie, go on the run after witnessing a murder carried out by four men. Quickly we realise that the four men are retired police officers from Los Angeles who have retired to their relatively quiet rural backwater (the Blue Heaven of the title), and they infiltrate the search for the two children in order to kill them. As well as being a very suspenseful book set over just 48 hours, it also has time to talk about the plight of ranchers trying to continue to eke out a living in a picturesque area where everyone wants a detached house and a couple of acres of land. Excellent.

Painless, by Derek Ciccone. [S.l.]: Dog Ear Publishing, 2009. Kindle edition.

Billy Harper is trying to rebuild a life and rents a cottage from Beth and Chuck Whitcomb in a small, exclusive town in Connecticut. It soon becomes apparent that their six-year-old daughter Carolyn is very different, and when the family finds out what the problem is they barely have time to absorb the diagnosis before a covert operation called Operation Anasthesia starts hunting Carolyn to exploit her "gifts". There are some very surreal elements to this, and some of it's quite science-fiction-like; it's also genuinely scary in parts. Highly recommended.

Fifth Avenue, by Christopher Smith. Kindle-only edition, 2010.

It's rare that you get a review which compares a novel adversely with a Jeffrey Archer, but this is sort of Kane and Abel revamped for the 21st century, but without any of the whatever-it-is which makes Archer's books bestsellers. A cast of extremely unlikeable mega-rich New Yorkers seem to have nothing better to do than take out contracts on each other while swanning round beautiful settings. I did finish this book, but only because it also has the advantage of not being very long, but it was a close call.

Truth dare kill, by Gordon Ferris. London: Corvus, 2011. Kindle edition.

Danny McRae has just about survived WWII, albeit with severe facial injuries, frequent blackouts and the loss of a couple of years' worth of memories. He's scraping along as a private investigator, having been a detective in Glasgow before the war, when a client asks him to locate the very man who sent him to France as an SOE officer in the first place. Meanwhile, a serial killer is stalking and killing prostitutes in the area, and Danny can't be totally certain that the killer isn't him - only unlocking his memories is likely to solve the dual mysteries. This is a really fast-paced noir novel set in a bomb-ravaged post-war London which is almost an additional character.

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